By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has strongly condemned the governor of Imo state Mr. Hope Uzodinma over his feeble and illogical attempt to justify his unwise decision to invite the military to his Orlu Senatorial Zone into a strictly internal security governance matter that does not require such military intervention unless the governor’s mandate is questionable.
In a media response to the rash of media propaganda by Mr. Hope Uzodinma on the Orlu Military versus Eastern security Network’s Fiasco, HURIWA which identifies itself as a good friend of the Nigerian Army totally disputes the claim that the Army was invited to forestall anarchy similar to the #ENDSARS’ protests and associated hijack by hoodlums and the attendant violence.
“Mr. Governor of Imo state, you are so wrong to have rushed to Abuja to ask Mr. President to deploy armed soldiers and Air force to stage military actions in Orlu Senatorial Zone over the presence of some of your constituents who set up a platform to protect their lives and properties from attacks by marauding and invading armed Fulani herdsmen.”
“What you ought to have done if truly your mandate is from Imo voters is to look towards the Imo state House of Assembly to make relevant laws bringing into being, a standardized armed vigilante to work in partnership with relevant security institutions like the Army, the Police and the DSS. Only someone coordinating a politically tainted occupying force can head to the nation’s capital to seek the assistance of the Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces to send soldiers, Air force and Military Forces to stage any sort of military incident no matter how friendly in Orlu over a very simple matter of internal security governance”.
“Mr. Governor, is it not ridiculous that you are proudly telling Nigerians that you are not a governor with the real mandate of the voters because if you have the mandate of the people, you need not seek for external intervention to crush the Eastern Security Network when it is not a force seeking to over run any territorial area in Nigeria but rather it is a creation of necessity which happened to fill the void of security governance in Imo state. You need to begin to govern the state and Imo people like a governor with the mandate and not a man heading an occupying force. You need to organize a parley of Imo politicians and stake holders, to work out the best approach to salvage the situation of insecurity in Imo state”.
“Besides, Mr. Governor of Imo state, the people of Imo State must be part of the solution to the emerging security problems unless you do not have a mandate.So please get back to work in Owerri, leave Abuja, and govern Imo State well”.
HURIWA also accused governor Hope Uzodinma of creating a chasm between the Security forces and the people by inviting them at the slightest localized provocation hat even the BOY SCOUTS MOVEMENT OF IMO STATE CHAPTER CAN HANDLE. The Rights group said that: “Another institution which is suffering the heat of the terror related activities of armed Fulani herdsmen who and other non state actors due to the approach being deployed in tackling it is the Nigerian army. While it is agreed that one special role of the military is support of State’s internal security apparatus in quelling internal insurrection, its traditional role remains protection of the nation from external aggression in defence of sovereignty.”
HURIWA questioned the rationale for the deployment of the military in Orlu on the invitation of Hope Uzodinma just as the Rights group said the politicians are straining the relationship between civilians and the military at a time that the support of the citizens are needed. HURIWA asserted that: “The implications of over utilizing the military internally are diverse including grave consequences of illegality, human rights violations, lack of popular support by the people and even the likelihood its mode of operation robbing off on other civil security agencies in the light of inter-agency collaboration. This association has ability to influence the police to become brutal or increase the sophistication and aggression of the terrorists or terror groups who ordinarily should be weakened by intelligence of the police or other trained civil organizations in collaboration with the people with whom the criminals ordinarily associate and sometimes live among. This abnormally can only be corrected by return to the legal foundations and basis for these organizations and legality in operation; only intelligence with the public support and not use of brute force and brutality, can win the war on terror. There is urgent need to demilitarize the domestic counter-terrorist approaches”.
HURIWA stated that what needs to be done is to ensure that terrorists who attack farmers under the guise of Fulani herdsmen are crushed. The problem is not IPOB OR ESN.
The Rights group said: “A law based terror war is people oriented and respects not only fundamental human rights (which are the rights granted in the priority law of the land like the Nigerian Constitution) but also recognizes and accords the people due respect as partners on the war and thereby consciously protects the humanity of the people. It must be clear that if the public is terrorized in the war on terror, the government will lose support in the war and that will complicate it. The object of the war should be defined to be the people’s interest for the security and safety of the public. It must be carried out it the most civilized way possible. A lot of times these essentials to the success of the fight are lost in the heat of emotion and stress occasioned by the havoc of the menace resulting in callous raids, arbitrary arrests lacking intelligence, unlawful arrests with ulterior motives, brutalization of suspects without iota of facts or evidence about their involvement or even outright arrests of relatives or friends who have not aided or abetted the crime”.
“It is said for the umpteen time that there is no such thing as vicarious criminal liability. The Supreme Court made this point abundantly clear in the case of PML (Nig) LTD v. Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR – 43480 (SC). So however closely related a person may be to a criminal or suspect of a crime, they cannot be held liable for their crimes unless they are culpable or complicit in the crime one way or the other. But the story never ends about how different security operatives raid houses or places and brutalize people who are not directly connected to the crimes. In some cases they are detained as a strategy to secure the arrest of their suspects. This is most cruel and illegal”.
“One option available to the USA and which was the safest for the US navy seal during the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden was to bomb his hide out at Abbottabad in Pakistan but it was not utilized avoid incuring casualties of other occupants of the building who obviously were related to him. The lesson is very clear, even the attack on the world’s terror leader and most wanted man was not callous or reckless”.
“A law based war against terror is also fearless and jettisons the popular believe that law is only enforced against the poor. This factor is particularly important because although the actual perpetrators are recruits from vulnerable people, the masterminds are the politically inclined or high class members of society. For instance it is very disappointing that although some top politicians were fingered as the brains behind and sponsors of terrorism in Nigeria, they have never been invited by law enforcement agents for questioning let alone charged with the crime”.
“Again the war must be holistic. Although a system founded on might has propensity for abuse, the root cause or aggravating factor of criminality is inequality which largely stems from government irresponsibility and irresponsiveness. No nation can successfully win a war on terror when its most active class are either unemployed or grossly underemployed and underpaid. A youthful unemployed population is a threat to peace, stability and security if at all there can be such society. There is therefore a need to revamp the economy and as an urgent interim measure reduce cost of governance and increase employment”.
Citing the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria Section- 4 (7) which states thus: The House of Assembly of a state shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the state or any part thereof with respect to the following matters that is to say-
a. Any matter not included in the Exclusive Legislative list set out in part 1 of the second schedule to this Constitution;
b. Any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative list set out in the first column of part II of the second Schedule of this constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and
c. Any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”
HURIWA therefore condemns Governor Hope Uzodinma for his unguarded utterances and for his manifest failures to secure Imo state lawfully.